Category Archives: 7 Holonics and Life

What makes the “God Letter” important.

Written in 1954, when Einstein was 74, the one-and-a-half page response to German philosopher Eric Gutkind was sold at auction for  … Three Million Dollars!  Give or take.

Is $3 million a big number?

It seems so to me, but then, crazy people …

It certainly drew attention, which is good because of what’s behind it.  A clever, thoughtful mind, in collaboration with others.

My attention was drawn by Albert Einstein writing about god!

Einstein was a scientist.  The scientist.

Talking about religion.  In a deeply spiritual way.

If you are a bit like me: a scientist (small “s”, ie asks questions) who is religious about some things (including “antitheism” for a while), the”God letter” would intrigue you.

It is seen as a key statement in the debate between science and religion.  In the letter, written in his native German, Einstein summarises his views:

“The word God is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses.”

“The Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends.”

“No interpretation, no matter how subtle, can [for me] change anything about this.”

The physicist also muses on his own Jewish identity, writing that it is “like all other religions, an incarnation of primitive superstition”.

“The Jewish people to whom I gladly belong, and in whose mentality I feel profoundly anchored, still for me does not have any different kind of dignity from all other peoples.”

Skipping to the end, the newsflash read:

In 2017, a note in which he gave advice on happy living sold for $1.56m in Jerusalem.  A single sentence, it reads:

“A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.”

Fascinated that this “laboratory based” character, this “mad professor” would express such complex spiritual understanding, a quick hop over to Wikipedia was in order to find out more about his perspective, which appears sensible and sound:

Einstein distinguished three human impulses which develop religious belief: fear, social or moral concerns, and a cosmic religious feeling. A primitive understanding of causality causes fear, and the fearful invent supernatural beings analogous to themselves. The desire for love and support create a social and moral need for a supreme being; both these styles have an anthropomorphic concept of God. The third style, which Einstein deemed most mature, originates in a deep sense of awe and mystery. He said, the individual feels “the sublimity and marvelous order which reveal themselves in nature … and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole.” Einstein saw science as an antagonist of the first two styles of religious belief, but as a partner in the third.[34] He maintained, “even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other” there are “strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies” as aspirations for truth derive from the religious sphere.

In Einstein’s view, “the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science,” for religion can always take refuge in areas that science can not yet explain. It was Einstein’s belief that in the “struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the doctrine of a personal God, that is, give up that source of fear and hope” and cultivate the “Good, the True, and the Beautiful in humanity itself.”

In 1936 Einstein received a letter from a young girl in the sixth grade. She had asked him, with the encouragement of her teacher, if scientists pray. Einstein replied:

“Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature, and therefore this holds for the actions of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a supernatural being. However, it must be admitted that our actual knowledge of these laws is only imperfect and fragmentary, so that, actually, the belief in the existence of basic all-embracing laws in nature also rests on a sort of faith. All the same this faith has been largely justified so far by the success of scientific research. But, on the other hand, everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe—a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.”

The following was written a few years before the “god letter”.

“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I belong to the rank of devoutly religious men.”[33] In December 1952, he commented on what inspires his religiosity, “My feeling is religious insofar as I am imbued with the insufficiency of the human mind to understand more deeply the harmony of the universe which we try to formulate as ‘laws of nature.'”[41] In a letter to Maurice Solovine Einstein spoke about his reasons for using the word “religious” to describe his spiritual feelings, “I can understand your aversion to the use of the term ‘religion’ to describe an emotional and psychological attitude which shows itself most clearly in Spinoza. (But) I have not found a better expression than ‘religious’ for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason.”

We people have consumed nature over the past 60 years using his, and others’ insights in to “technology”.  The nuclear age and sixth mass extinction began in 1945.  We have nuclear power and weapons, cars and guns, drugs and drugs, and food and houses and people and fewer other species and climate breakdown …

Sadly we paid less attention to the enlightened perspectives on the meta-physical and on liberating human potential which have been smothered as we clamour for more, … more stuff.

Happy christmas.

Three million dollars …

 

… breathe … think … flow….

Good and Bad People

The truth about “good people” and “bad people”.

From “Guards! Guards!” by the great Sir Terry Pratchett.  (Guards! Guards! is recommended reading for these  fractious political times.)

Setting: As the dust settles the Patrician speaks with the Captain of the Night Watch (a civilian police force, i.e. of the people not of the state, it is not military – soldiers shoot citizens).

‘It may help you make some sense of the world.’

‘Sir.’

‘I believe you find life such a  problem because you think there are the good people and the bad people,’ said the man. ‘You are wrong of course.  There are, always and only, the bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.’

He waved his thin hand towards the city and walked over to the window.

‘A great rolling sea of evil,’ he said, almost proprietorially.  ‘Shallower in some places, of course, but deeper, oh, so much deeper in others.  But people like you put together little rafts of rules and vaguely good intentions and say, this is the opposite, this will triumph in the end.  Amazing!’  He slapped Vimes good-naturedly on the back.

‘Down there,’ he said, ‘are people who will follow any dragon, worship any god, ignore any iniquity.  All out of a kind of humdrum, everyday badness.  Not the really high, creative loathesomeness of the great sinners, but a sort of mass produced darkness of the soul.  Sin, you might say, without a trace of originality.  They accept the evil not because they say yes, but because the don’t say no’.  I’m sorry if this offends you,’ he added, patting the captain’s shoulder, ‘but you fellows really need us.’

‘Yes, sir?’ said Vimes quietly.

‘Oh, yes.  We’re the only ones who know how to make things work.  You see, the only thing the good people are good at it overthrowing the bad people.  And you’re good at that I’ll grant you.  But the trouble is that it’s the only thing you’re good at.  One day it’s the ringing of the bells and the casting down of the evil tyrant, and the next it’s everyone sitting down complaining that ever since the tyrant was overthrown no-one’s been taking out the trash.  Because bad people know how to plan.  It’s part of the specification, you might say.  Every evil tyrant has a plan to rule the world.  The good people don’t seem to have the knack.’

‘Maybe.  But you’re wrong about the rest!’ said Vimes. ‘It’s just because people are afraid, and alone–‘ He paused.  It sounded pretty hollow, even to him.

He shrugged.  ‘They’re just people,’ he said. ‘They’re just doing what people do.  Sir.’

Lord Vetinari gave him a friendly smile.

‘Of course, of course,’ he said. ‘You believe that , I appreciate.  Otherwise you’d think you’re standing on a feather-thin bridge over the vaults of Hell .  Otherwise existence would be a dark agony and the only hope would be that there is no life after death.   I quite understand.’  …


Genius and beautifully explained.

So, is there a way off the bridge?

Is there a chance for “goodness”?

I believe so.  But it is not some dramatic performance, it is simply about being more universal.  It is about letting go of our animal fear and greed.  It is about embracing existence and allowing ourselves to reconnect with nature.  It is about realising that you are part of the bridge and the abyss and it is only fearful if your ego overpowers you.  If you let go of fear,  the bridge becomes choice and the abyss a pool of love.

It is simple to follow the path presented by the universe once you have let go.  How to let go?  Breathe. Think. Flow.

Live to ride!

Being able to let go and step back allows us to see things that we would otherwise miss.  And if you allow it, the universe drops hints in your way all the time.  Slowly, I’m getting better at letting go and noticing the hints…

So it was an unusual coincidence that I happened to see a FB post by Dana with a couple of snaps of his brother, Chris.  And for some reason I decided to read the words.

Chris had died.

It took a while for me to realise that was what the post was about.  And as surprise turned to sadness I remembered the good times we had had all those years ago as kids.  We lost touch as families do, but luckily I linked up with Dana a few years ago as I started to try to rejuvenate relationships that had faded over the years.

Chris died a few days ago when he crashed through a roundabout on his bike.

It turned out, in another unexpected twist of fate, that he had written a personal post to his friends and family about why he rides, even knowing the danger.

Why?

Because riding is living!

Each of us finds release in different ways – booze, bikes, work, hobbies,  meditation, etc – and hopefully we can limit the risks  while we continue to experience life.  The lesson from Chris is to remember that we all suffer demons and stress and we need space to let them fade.  So let’s all take a breath, give those around us a bit of space and enjoy the ride!

Ride on, Chris!

Chris Marlin in his own words:

Dear loved ones,

I want you to know I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for making you worry every time I climb onto my bike. For you worried this could be my last. I want you to know that if that is the case, I’m sorry I left on such short notice. Please know that was never my intention. You may sometimes ask why I would risk my life “just for a ride”? To some people, no answer will be good enough. Others may say things like, “he is careless, selfish or crazy”! And for the rest of you that are undecided, please take a minute to read on.

‘A ride’ is my freedom away from a world turning evil, nagging, a person that’s on our last nerve. “A ride” could have helped you stay another day. “A ride” could have saved an argument, or kept a someone from saying something he or she regrets! “A ride” could be the only time a mom, dad, wife, husband, grandma, grandpa, girlfriend, boyfriend, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, daughter or brother has during a day to catch his or her breath, to re-energize, to pray for strength to continue on with all the “job titles” a mother or father has in a day!

Last but not least, I love it and everything about it. I love the long roads with the beautiful views! I love the excitement I feel every time I twist the throttle. I love the gas station conversations. I love the out of the blue rides. I love the most the family that’s within the biker community. I just love the ride!

I will finish by saying THANK YOU! Thank you, for supporting me even though you’re not comfortable with it.hank you, for the countless prayers. Thank you for every phone call to make sure the biker down wasn’t me. Thank you for showing your love even when it’s difficult.

 

Justice and Morality vs The Law

A fitting reminder of our past and current failing to live up to the moral code we all profess.  Personally, I know my direct ancestors have been party to self-aggrandising laws and behaviour which was wrong.  As have I …Laurie Embree, having been arrested for protesting the Kinder Morgan pipeline, speaking eloquently to the court on 31 July 2018:

Your Honour, I have lived my 70 years abiding by the law. But, if we look back into our history, there have been many times when our laws have supported injustices.

In the 18th century there were laws that supported child labour to the benefit of the Industrialists of the times.

In the 19th century, laws were created to support the ownership of black people to the benefit of Plantation Owners.

In the 20th century, we made laws that allowed us to take native children away from their parents and to place the rest of the family on reserves, to the benefit of Europeans that wanted their land.

And again, laws that suppressed women’s rights, to the benefit of their husbands.
All of those laws were created through the judicial system- that you are a part of, sir – but they were actually designed by influential people behind the scenes that would profit from them.

As much as we think we have come a long way, the mentality behind the Industrialists, the Plantation owners, the European lust for Indigenous land, and the men that wanted their wives to do their bidding, is still very present in our society.

Our judicial system is still being manipulated by rich and powerful people that have the influence to make our legal system work for them.

I truly believe that when we have laws that support injustices, it is the duty of all good men and women to stand up and challenge those laws.

A prominent and recent case in point would be when Director Chatenay of the Canadian Wheat Board was jailed for protesting the Canada Customs Act and its restrictions on grain exports. In his own defence, Mr. Chatenay stated that, “The greatest respect for the law is to change an unjust one.”

Subsequently, on August 10th of 2012, Mr. Chatenay, and others jailed for that protest, were pardoned by then – Prime Minister Harper who, in doing so said, and I quote,

“These people are not criminals. They are our fellow citizens who protested injustice by submitting themselves peacefully to the consequences of challenging injustice.”

I believe the man I just quoted is the person who appointed you to the position you hold today.  This law sir, that you have created, and that I, and many others are peacefully challenging, is unjust.  It supports an industry that is not just harming children, or black people, or women, or Indigenous peoples. Your law, in fact, is supporting an industry that has been scientifically proven to be harming the whole world and every living thing on it.

Nature is the Teacher

After the opening hour of #edchatMENA “Nature vs Artificial Intelligence” on Saturday 24 March 2018 I went outside to my other “office”.

A large branch from a cedar tree had fallen during recent snow and wind.  We had cleared much of it in the past few days, but, because it was now looking a bit lopsided, we’d decided to trim the other branches.

Without realising it you think, and learn, a lot when playing with nature.  There’s the physical aspect of simply walking over fallen branches, or climbing up to get at the branches that you want to cut or carrying the saw.  Then there’s the care that you want to take to avoid getting hurt.  This is learning where failure can be terminal.  I’ve had a couple of close shaves, and have the scars to remind me, so I’m not as audacious as I used to be.

It would be wonderful if you could also hear the birds and smell the wood.  Fresh cedar has a powerful aroma.  Its sap is sticky and stays on you.  When you’re up close and personal with the tree you also notice the differences with the other fir trees nearby.  With a guide book in hand you can accelerate your understanding of the trees and their different habitat.

Here’s how it looked a couple of years ago after one of several main trunks had fallen backwards leaving a bit of a gap …  You can see a “monkey” in the fir tree to the left, which helps indicate scale.  The tree is about 30m high.

Continue reading Nature is the Teacher

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Psychometrics and You

It has been reassuring to see the news headlines about investigations in to the illegal use of personal data by leading people and organisations.

However, it is unlikely that this kind of behaviour will stop.  Curtailing the activities of a company or two will simply result in others adopting the same unethical behaviour, but hiding it better or skirting the law better.  Our systems show that when we are caught, we improve our deception so that we don’t get caught again.  Or we pay off the authorities.  This is clearly evidenced by the lack of reform in the banking sector in the past decade.

Sharing users’ data might not even be considered illegal – it’s quite clear that it’s been going on for years.  (Have a look at the extract below from How to Get Rich and Famous which discusses the original algorithms developed by Kosinski.)  The concern being highlighted is that the CEO of Cambridge Analytica was caught on camera offering to bribe and blackmail.  The abuse of private data is becoming acceptable as we all turn a blind eye to the gratuitous relationships we have with social media platforms and search engines.

Instead, we must each care enough to change our own behaviour.

So here is some advice from the BBC on protecting yourself, if you can’t bear to leave Facebook, Google, Microsoft et al: Continue reading Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Psychometrics and You

My excuse for being lazy …

My excuse for being lazy is thinking up new ideas.

So why would I admit to laziness?

Guilt.  It’s increasingly clear that people are amazing.  Not just celebrities on TV, also regular people.  People who make our lives better,. People who work hard for family and friends and good causes.  Shop owners, tradespeople, “employees”,  and people who don’t have work, resources, maybe even friends, who share their talents and energy to help others.  Real people.  That’s a challenge to follow.  So I’m feeling a bit guilty.

And what were these ideas that I took time off to think up? Continue reading My excuse for being lazy …

The Blue Economy

Here’s a nice 6 minute video that puts us in the picture.  The big picture.

It’s not the whole story, but its brief and is a super introduction and a refresher for old hands..

We are past the point of stopping disruption.  It was 15 oC this evening.  (Ireland, December) 13 oC would be OK, maybe in the realm of normality.  But 15oC is not a symptom of normality.

And then there’s the data.  We believe in data because we live off it.  It is data that runs our lives, our businesses, our cell phones.  And data shows us what’s going on, what’s behind the hype.  So check out the movie and research some data.  Change is happening. Adapt.

ZERI, initiated by the founder of Ecover, explains why the “green” economy must evolve to the “blue” economy and how …

Drawdown – a comprehensive plan to reverse global warming

Paul Hawken has edited Drawdown,  a comprehensive review and analysis of tangible actions that can mitigate the destruction of the natural environment which is now being precipitated by anthropogenic pollution and is most visible in global warming.  Drawdown is the work of many professionals collaborating to synthesise practical mitigation actions.

Yesterday he collaborated with The Security and Sustainability Forum to present a summary of the book via webinar.  The video is shared below and you can follow through the slides shared by Edward Saltzberg MD of SSF here: https://www.slideshare.net/esaltzberg/drawdown-60-minutes-with-paul-hawken  The slides include summary financial and carbon data of the impact of various remedies.

Drawdown – 60 Minutes with Paul Hawken from Security & Sustainability Forum